On the 16th we left the albergue that has to be the worst of our trip: Sta. Ana! We walked along the highway for a bit and then through fields and small hamlets where we encountered more sheep and goats and a herd of cows that had taken over the road. The muddy path was difficult to travel. We had a late breakfast early lunch at Hospital de Orbigo where Montserrat, whose Restaurant is called Fonda/Bar Alicia, served us. It was an expensive meal at 12 Euros for a plain tortilla francesa;.We crossed Rio Orbigo on the old bridge that was undergoing repairs. Then we stopped in Santibañez de Valdeiglesia and continued our walk through the alternate route through the countryside, away from the highway. The yellow arrows helped us stay on course as there were various footpaths and roads, so it could’ve been very easy to stray and end up lost. In one plazuela where we stopped for a snack, we overheard two women–one with closely cropped hair the other with a bun talking about guns! something about how she needed to get some parts for constructing the escopetas. The sign with the saying about cebolla y el ajo made me smile…Villares has a sense of humor! The albergue there was recently painted and looks very clean.
An old man with a german shepherd dog talked to us and tried to tell us not to follow this path but to take the one by the highway–he insisted that we were lost! He was right that it was not an easy path, especially the area around the dairy farm with the awful animal stench. But we wanted to go via the more traditional Camino and not by the highway. At the Paso de Honroso, we hear the legend of the knight who defended the bridge.
It touched me. The fog is heavy and eerie. La niebla. It is this fog that everyone had been warning us about. The path is full of surprises. In one spot, we stopped to rest because both of us had leg pains. As we sat on a flat rock that had a huge yellow arrow on it, we were healed! The pain disappeared instantaneously and I can only attributed that to the healing energy of the place.
The mist hangs low and heavy as we walk and although it is not cold, I shiver at times and feel that I am in a movie or at least in a dream. Can’t believe I am fulfilling this life-long dream.
We came upon a red brick structure in the middle of nowhere near San Justo de la Vega outside of Astorga. David a Catalan lives there and he aims to serve. He is there for the pilgrims, to give them a bit of food and to ask that they rest. No charge, just donations accepted for the food. We gave him 5 Euros for both of us. I took a cookie, some grape juice, and some walnuts. All is healthy and organic he assured us. He has lived there without electricity or water for a year and 2 months. He told us an incredible story of the place and how he hopes to build it up, but it is not his and the owner is threatening to oust him.
We walked on and the local priest stopped to chat with us and practice his English. While we were talking to the priest who remained in his car and we were standing by the driver’s side, David caught up with us and insisted on helping first Becky and then me with our backpacks. He walked at such a fast pace, long blonde hair blowing in the wind, I feared he would disappear with our packs. As we entered Astorga we saw him waiting for us under a street lamp, outside the Siervas de María public albergue. We hugged him and kissed him goodbye, and he disappeared, skipping lightly into the misty night.
We walked into the Albergue and were greeted by Urusula, a German pilgrim who is the hospitalera along with two others.
Later she told me that she is 70; she has walked the Camino several times and hopes to make the Camino again when she is 75. I thought that it would be something I’d like to do as well. After leaving our stuff by our cots, we went in search of a locutorio to call and check email. I talked to Mom who sounded terrific; Celia, who is celebrating her birthday; Elsa who was happily shopping with Klariza and Alexa; Elvia who was asleep.
We got back to the albergue and took a showers; I then sat by the radiator trying to stay warm and dry my hair. while writing in my journal. We slept in a bedroom that is for women with some Korean women. It was cold! We didn’t find blankets, so, I asked and Ursula brought us some pretty thin but woolen ones; she seemed to be doing it furtively so the men didn’t find out. We spent a cold night, but not as cold as at Sta. Ana the night before.
MEDITATION FOCUS: I dedicated the walk in honor of Celia who turned 48. My little sister! She is really special and has made many decisions I would not agree with, yet she has managed to survive relatively unscathed. Now that her children are growing she deserves to go beyond where she is at and to grow in the ways that she desires.